Cillian O’Connor our MOTM from yesterday


Photo: Irish Independent (Sportsfile/Daire Brennan)

Okay, the poll’s closed and the votes are in for the second-last Mayo GAA Blog Man of the Match award of the year. Like the match itself, the poll was a close-run thing but, unlike yesterday’s All-Ireland decider against Dublin at Croke Park, this one didn’t end in stalemate.

Top of the poll with 20% of the vote was team captain Cillian O’Connor. He hasn’t been firing on all cylinders this year but he was one of our real leaders at Croke Park yesterday. And when we desperately needed his inspirational input, a point behind with the game deep in injury time, he produced. And how:

Donal Vaughan also had a stormer yesterday and this is reflected in his 19% share of the vote. Others to feature prominently in the poll were Paddy Durcan, Brendan Harrison and Tom Parsons (all on 12%).

Well done to them all and well done too to all the other lads, both on and off the field, who played their part in yesterday’s titanic tussle with the Dubs. Thanks to them, there’ll now be one further MOTM poll in 2016, assuming the replay on 1st October does produce a winner, that is.

40 thoughts on “Cillian O’Connor our MOTM from yesterday

  1. Cillian well deserves the accolade. ice-cool under all sorts of conditions – witness his steely-eyed demeanour whenever he takes a penalty – he put everything he had into planting the ball over the bar to give us another well-earned bite at the cherry called Sam.
    His impact on games up to last Sunday may not have been up to his usual high standard but, by God, did he deliver the goods when he so desperately needed them. He will be a worthy recipient of Sam on October 1!

    And if there was an award for best management team it would have to go to Stephen Rochford and co – starting with the tactical win over the crafty Micky Harte, then lowering Liam Kearns’ high-flying colours with Tipperary, and finally outwitting the smarmy Jim Gavin on Sunday. For a 37 year old – with a budget half that of the Dubs – that’s some achievement!!!

  2. Well done to Cillian. He showed great leadership and stood up and took responsibility at the end to get that score. Such a mentally tough guy and he also seems to really rile up a certain section of Dublin supporters, so he must be doing something right! Glad we have him on our side.

  3. Anyone know why Conor O’Shea did not make an appearance? Seems a bit strange in hindsight given his strong sub performances and think he would have suited the occasion….

  4. Can see Cillian driving on to be our match winner next day. Think Dubs will target Leroy for an early yellow. We need a counter plan for Connolly.

  5. To my eternal shame, I dropped my head at half time for the first time this year. I never believed in curses or any of that shite but TWO own goals. I called home to talk to the good wife and told her of my doubts, she told me to “cop the fuck on, there’s 35 minutes left”. My son turned to me at the final whistle with a look of utter amazement and said “please can I come to the next game”. What a sport we have.
    Talking to the players in the Citywest yesterday morning, it’s obvious they smelt blood on Sunday and they won’t be sated till they have their kill in two weeks. Put your house, car, kids inheritance on us the next day, cause mark my words, we will beat Dublin.

  6. A well constructed score from Cillian and no better man to execute. It started out the field with patience accuracy and intent. It shows that we can do this.Its a finely tuned thing that hinges on split second thoughts reactions and executions. Let’s get out there the next day with Cillian and show the footballing world what we can really do. Sunday was just an aperitif!!
    Let’s have a bit more of all the Ps…Power. Patience, pace , pride, precision, persistence and that final winning punch!
    We can do it!

  7. The Media are really making hay out of Casey’s comments and turning them against us. There were at least two articles yesterday and today Indo leads with GAA “investigation” into tunnel incident.

  8. Tv3 saying cillian is an injury concern for the next day that he picked up leg injury towards end. Hope this isn’t true.

  9. Tunnel thing storm in a tea cup. Let’s all just leave that one. Time to settle now… Let things rest. If you know players leave them off. This group of management and players deserve space to get things right the next day. Look back at that game, we have plenty of things to work on. Reality is Mayo were never in a winning position. We scraped back to get the draw. We got it, by the skin of our teeth. We move on.

  10. The man’s temperament is beyond question. He really adds substance to that old addage ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’.

    I thought Vaughan, Durkan, Parsons and Doherty were all to the fore too and deliivered massive performances.

    All the post match analysis is focused on Dublin under performing but we can get a lot more from Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor and Cillian O’Connor from an attacking perspective.

    The belief is clearly building.

  11. I watched the game again last night and in the first half whilst the mayo backs were heroic, we completely malfunctioned going forward. The amount of unpressurised ball we turned over was shocking.
    Even legislating for the 2 goals, we should have another 5 or 6 scores on the board at half time. So, I would expect mayo to improve dramatically for the next game. I cannot see Connolly, brogan & McM, scoring more than 6 points between them. If we continue to keep things tight, I see no reason why we won’t win with 3 to spare and that is assuming they keep AOS quiet.

  12. We are going to need a bit more from the lads around him. Cillian has been carrying

    the hod up front for us too long. An amazing performance for sure but we are still not

    firing on all cylinders. The lads themselves know that. I just think it`s going to take a

    fifteen-man effort ( +) the next day.

  13. Hope Mayo players pundits and us supporters just keep our heads for the next few days.
    The fact nothing been leaked from the camp has been a huge help this year.
    This blog and the way it is run is a massive help to all who love this county.I think John should be rewarded in the future for his Trojan work for the cause (aka Willie Joe).
    Let’s all get there again the next day and give it our all, its only the second half let’s finish what we started once and for all.
    Keep her lit Willie Joe.

  14. Well done to Cillian, he is some man for one man. Keep up the great work! A special mention for Patrick Durcan and Brendan Harrison too, they did really well playing in their first final. Fair play to Jason Doc and Donie Vaughan too. They put in a massive shift also.

  15. Says in the sun and star today that Cillian is a doubtful for the next day , I know these are tabloids
    Hopefully it’s not the case

  16. Evergreen.

    Think it’s very disrespectful to likes of Jason Doherty and in particular Andy Moran to say Cillian is the one carrying the hod for Mayo up front. You need to review the stats and the facts over the season and then try and justify that claim. Moran was Mayos outstanding forward again on Sunday and his low ranking on the voting here is mystifying….to me at least.

  17. What a team! What a man!
    I am remembering Ger Loughnane’s words to his team:”Men needed now.” We had them.
    I am looking at the sequence from D. Connolly’s attempt at glory and I see the clock behind D.Clarke’s goal.I watch the ball being kicked out and from then until Cillian’s wonderful point I watch over and over again,
    Sometimes I think my heart will burst with pride.

  18. I wonder would it be worth starting Stephen Coen on Brian Fenton the next day. Fenton did some damage the last day again against us and was involved in two goals attempts. He was not being tracked. Just do a man marking job on him like Keegan does on Connolly. He needs to be stopped. He is probably the only midfield type player we have that would be able stay with him for the entire match. SOS, Parsons, Moran and AOS do not have the legs to stay with him.
    Worth a shot I would think and SOS to come on if it is not working out
    We would go a long way to winning it by negating Fenton(if possible)..

  19. Its gas when you think about it, Kerry lost by 2 points to Dublin and were up by 5 points at half-time and 3 points coming near the end of the game, yet they played brilliant and Dublin were great to claw back those Kerry leads. Yet we draw with Dublin after coming back from been 5 points down at half-time, having conceded 2 own goals and come back from been 3 points down in injury time and the media mantra is that Dublin just played poorly!

    I suppose until we win the big one that’s just the way its going to be, we are not going to get much credit. It probably actually suits us if this is the media message sent out in the next two weeks, that Dublin played poorly.

    For us the stat that stands out the most is that in the drawn game Dublin won 55% possession while we won 45%. We really need to get the better of Brain Fenton in the replay. For Dublin’s first goal it was him and MacAuley that opened us up and for the second goal we left a free man, Dean Rock, in front of our goals, as the D’Unbelievables would say, ‘You can’t be doing things like that’.

    So we have plenty to work on but there is no doubt that if we play to our best we can beat the Dubs in the replay. Roll on the game!

  20. Agreed re Fenton. He’s a super player and needs to be harried and tracked from start to finish.
    Also re the OG’s, while horribly unlucky, both opportunities had danger written all over them prior to ball being netted. We all do have to come down to earth quick smart here. We have lots of positives to take from the match but if I was Rochy I’d be hammmering home to the lads that we were 40 odd seconds from losing our eight final. All Connolly had to do was pass that sideline to a colleageue and seconds later they’d be singing Molly Malone. That’s the reality. The winning of Sunday’s match was out of our hands at that point and we have to seriously look at that. Fact is we probably should have lost the match. It would have been cruel but we’d have no one to blame but ourselves. Also, while our opening to the second half was a credit to the lads, we never looked like pushing on to win the match.
    The most important positive is the manner in which we stood up to the Dubs throughout and as I said in previous post, we will undoubtedly stand up to them again and it will be another close match. Also, the intensity we played with was a joy to see but the Dubs will be fully prepared for this in Part 2.
    We need cooler heads, particularly in the second half and need to be a lot smarter with the possession we have. Some of the shocking passes on Sunday reminded me of our second half in the 2013 final where numerous times the wrong option was taken and we simply gifted the ball to the Dubs. At least now we have a second chance. Lets learn from Sunday and come at Dublin stronger. It’s all in our hands.

  21. Im coming down to earth today only and just about. Reeling and buzzing.
    A day never to be forgotten and will be talked about for the ages to come.
    Back now to keeping calm. No hype. No talking.
    Dont worry. CILLIAN will be fine. An out and out true warrior.
    Kilkenny and Fenton need to be stopped in their tracks from what i could see.
    Was in hogan stand. I felt only one shouting for Mayo. An older woman beside me and she kept pulling me down when I jumped up and down.
    She lucky we didnt have a tunnel incident on Hogan. And had water that looked like it had Crypto in it!!!
    ANDY MORAN I just luv him to bits.

  22. Mairead there are basically too many event junkies in the Hogan stand on an all ireland final day .
    the atmosphere in the cusack was epic, every time the hill sang the mayo fans shouted them down , every single time.

    Cillians man of the match was undeserved imo. great point but not a MOTM performance,
    Tom Parsons was MOTM by a country mile taking both teams into acount.
    he must have touched the ball 100 times and used it well almost every time.

  23. @facetheball was thinking the exact same thing about leaving off Seamie for Coen, just to track Fenton. He’s on Player of the Year form and someone needs to take him out. I mean that in a legal fashion. Just remove him from the game. He makes them tick in terms of the running game in the same manner as MacAuley did 2 to 3 years ago. If we can get Fenton off his game then MacAuley isn’t the player he was, Bastick’s legs are gone, McCafferey isn’t there, Durkan has the speed and engine for McManamon so they will be seriously stuck.

  24. @kevmy Absolutely. Fenton needs to be stopped.Not so worried by Kilkenny. for all his possession (and ridiculous over carrying) he is not doing that much damage in opposition area whereas Fention is.

  25. Great fightback by Mayo showed great bottle, really proud of the Lads. Dublin will improve so Mayo Need To IMPROVE ALSO. I agree with Jim Mcguinness ,Mayo need to bring the element of surprise the next day. Kilkenny and Clare have done it in the past in replays and it paid off. Mental preparation between now and the replay is also key,there should be a big emphasis on that. Why oh why do former Mayo players in the media let the side down, why not show a bit of CUTENESS,they could learn lessons from Kerry former players. Sadly CUTENESS is not a word I would associate with Mayo in the past or with Current Mayo Supporters.

  26. @facetheball was thinking the same as I left Croke Park, Fenton was my man of the match and dragged the dubs through to a draw. Seamie was ball watching for the first goal, need someone to shadow him for the whole game.

    He had 2 x goal chances in the first 10 minutes.

    Coen would have to be able to empty the tank for 40 minutes and then bring Seamie on.

  27. Dublin will not play as poorly again. So say the pundits; the same pundits who wrote us completely out of the coronation ceremony and now last Sunday was just an aberration an normal service will be restored on Oct. 1st. Fi e let them continue in that vein, suits us fine. Pundits are like politicians, when they make a wrong choice they can not be dissuaded from it. Fine again.
    What did we learn? We learned that we can beat Dublin and THEY LEARNED THAT TOO. That will influence their preparation and that will implant doubt in their minds.
    We learned that in Harrison, Keegan and Durcan we have three defenders who will nullify any three forwards in the country. That is 60%% of the attacking force taken care of. While Boyle, Higgins and Vaughan are looser in defence with McLoughlin’s assistance that should take care of the rest.
    We saw anxiety deprive us of two goals and two points. Andy and Cillian could easily have taken a little shimmy and scored two goals, while Aidan’s fisted effort should have been directed over the bar as should Durcan have gone for a point instead on trying for a goal in a crowded goalmouth. Anxiety also was a major factor in Aidan’s below par performance. A bit more relaxed and he would have secured much more possession.
    In the first half Higgins and Vaughan were not supported quickly enough in their forays forward. Possibly more support would have provide more chances.
    Our substitutions need to be made when we run out of steam. Seamus O’Shea was out on his feet by the 53rd minute but was left there to make 2 further mistakes before being replaced. Those who are saying his place is in doubt should look again at all the blocks, tackles and covering he did in the first half. Diarmuid O’Connor was also gone at that stage and he stood waiting for an admittedly weak pass from Seamie and between them they coughed up a scoring chance. I thought Conor O’Shea was the obvious choice as his replacement. I still do.
    Dublin made their substitutions when it was obvious their players were not being allowed to perform. Happily all of our stalwarts were performing to their maximum but they did tire.
    I expect more from Parsons the next day as this was his first real test of the season but he showed what an asset he is to the team.
    Finally, I wish we could find a way to get Doherty closer to goal as he is a natural scoring forward and those skills are not something with which we are over endowed. He burst on the scene as a prolific goalscorer and it was later discovered that he was also a very capable defensive player. I would try to concentrate on his best skills and get others to take care of the defensive duties.
    There is no doubt but that we can do it but we have to put in another herculean effort to achieve it.

  28. I sat down last night with a big mug of Tea, and watched the whole game again. It’s stunning how much you miss the first time out – I was wondering if I was watching the same game at all for parts of it. There are aspects of this game that are so bizarre, that they simply can’t be Analyzed.

    There are some positives, and a few concerns on both sides.

    On the plus side, on AIF day football was actually played, even in horrendous conditions, with the weight of expectation sitting heavily on both teams.

    Both Defenses will be satisfied with their shift, with Dublin’s being marginally happier. At no point did they look to have given Mayo a clear cut shot on Goal. Aidan was choked out of large parts of the game, forcing him further outfield in an attempt to get clean possession. Mayo’s imposing wall of Red and Green on the 40 meter line is the result of long hours on the training pitch, and is a sizeable obstacle for any team to try to overcome. The Dublin FF lines return from play speak volumes of it’s effectiveness.

    Mayo’s defensive Achilles heel is what happens when the wall is breached. There is an air of panic that seems to pervade when this happens. After rewatching, both own goals are the result of individuals having a momentary loss of calm.

    McLoughlin shoves a boot out instinctively to guide the ball into the net, when what was needed was a cool and rational shepherding of the ball out to go harmlessly wide. A costly case of the Jitters.

    For the second goal, it was more of the same. It’s not mentioned much, but the Delivery from Connolly from a dead ball in the lead up to this goal was absolutely sublime, and it caught Boyle completely by surprise. As the ball spills, he just lashed out aimlessly at it and left Clarke with no chance.

    Clarke on the other hand, never seems to panic, his stop on Fenton was textbook, and he closed down KevinMc well too. One on one, it’s hard to bet against him.

    Cooler heads will be needed the next day, and not just in Defence, but in attack too. Both sides squandered chances, but the AOS attempt late in the game sticks out as a real Brain-Fart.

    Connolly’s sideline one looked to be a mistake, but I see the logic in what he did. If it goes over, it’s almost certainly game won, if it goes wide and dead, the clock is run down, and Mayo will be forced to try to win possession back from the Kickout. If O’Gara hadn’t decided to leave his defender and amble up to Clarke, things might have panned out very differently. In the end, Cillian backed himself (despite not having a sterling game), and slotted it over well.

    After that, the ref is playing the draw.

    Tactically, Mayo will rightly feel they won this one, but herein lies the issue. They had a plan to stop Dublin winning, and they executed it very, very well. But did they have a plan to win the game themselves? I didn’t see one.

    Mayo in fairness, even when five down, never looked beaten, but at the same time, they never looked like they had the winning of this game in them either. So much was expended in stopping Dublin, that there was nothing left to put into the Green and Red going forward. Their attack seemed laboured and ponderous at times. Mind you, it was no worse than the Dubs attack, but by all metrics, they had an absolute stinker. Leading scorer from play was a black-card sub for a defender. That says it all.

    On that, I feel for James Mc, he was hard done by for his black, but it happened, so C’est La Vie. Interestingly, it was not the Ref who was primarily responsible for this, but one of the sideline officials – none other than Joe McQuillan. I wonder have the “Dublin Joe” jibes got to him, and he is trying to prove a point. Either way, glad it won’t be him in a final, he’s been tainted by the media, and may never ref another Dublin game again (unless it’s A Vs B 🙂 )

    Final thought, we need to collectively stop this over-analysis by the media on every little thing – all it does is feed itself, and produce nothing of value to be consumed.

    I want to remember this game by thinking about that fine photo of Cluxton and Aidan clasping arms after the final whistle, in an act of mutual respect and honest appreciation.

    I don’t want to recall John Casey’s driveling and cringeworthy attempt to big up a storm in a tea cup.

    The media in general are not there to make you feel good, they’re there to get attention. Like Trolls, ignore them, and they’ll be forced to change tack.


  29. Great post, Jaden, hard to argue with any of that. One teentsy, tiny point though – would you mind omitting the COYBIB at the end of your comments? This isn’t the Twitter machine and it’s getting on my tits just ever so slightly at this stage! Aside from that, carry on – you’re playing a blinder.

  30. The photo of the day, for me, was the one at the final whistle of Connolly walking away from Keegan (with his back to him) but with his left arm stretched out behind offering his hand in respect. Keegan veering off to the left, actually looking away from Connolly, but reaching out his right arm and tapping Connollys hand in appreciation. It’s as if they can’t stand the sight of each other but also begrudgingly respect each others ability and ferocious competitive spirit to do WHATEVER it takes to win. Two outstanding players who gave everything for their teams on the day.
    It puts a lot of the media bullshit about sledging and off the ball stuff (the Ciaran Whelan Dubcentric narrative) into perspective. In truth, I’d say a lot of the players love the dirt and physical side of things. You don’t get to this level in the game if you are not prepared to give and take the dirty belt.
    Nice guys win nothing.

  31. We Did not give them six points.We gave them two clear cut goal chances which resulted in 2 goals.Only for Clark made another brilliant save they would have had 3.I don’t recall Cluxton making any saves apart from the AOS flick that hit his legs.We need to address this.Goals win All Ireland Finals especially the ones we are in. If we are to win the replay we will have to out score them in the goals dept.UP MAYO

  32. That is an excellent photo Pebblesmeller and on a day when there were many fantastic photos taken that one stands out. Jaden that shot of Cluxton and O’Shea was excellent too.

    Agree re the talk about the tunnel incident. Making a drama of a bit of shoving and jostling – big deal. Both teams are well able to give it and well able to take it too.

    There is little doubt that there is respect between both teams and why wouldn’t there be? This is a rivalry for the ages, and when so little separates them, neither will give an inch and that’s what makes these battles so enthralling.


  33. What a game. It was not the greatest but it was one of the best games to keep the heart on overdrive. At long last we grew up to be MEN. Reading the shite Casey has penned its no wonder why we lost in 1996/7. If the poor chap was trampled over by Cilian, on the field it also showed the difference between 2016 and 1996. We now have men where as in 1996 we had BOYS. Face the Ball and few others are saying we should start Stephen Coen to mark Brian Fenton. Stephen has a long way to go before he will mark the likes of Fenton. The most person who has to up his performance the next day is the man who does all the talk, and to be honest he never performs on AI day in any grade, is AOS,
    Watched the game on telly last night, and to be honest he was not at the pace of the game. Still you have to hand it to Captain Fantastic COC, what a score to earn a replay. I see where Maurice Deegan is ref next day, so far its not anyone from Meath or Dublin Joe, and I am happy with Maurice. We have never feared the Dubs and we won’t start now. Please don’t let Casey down near the tunnel, he is now starting to rant like Bollix Brolly. By the way did our female senators get tickets( poor dears) for the last day?

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